How to Find the Best Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Dothan Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Dothan AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. First, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each program in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? A number of prospective students will start by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Work Description
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Dothan AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work tasks of an ultrasound tech may include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finish. Another option for individuals who have already obtained a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many colleges set up through Dothan AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever state you decide to work in.
Ultrasound Technology Specialties
Ultrasound technology, or diagnostic sonography, has become more popular for diagnosing internal medical conditions because, unlike other medical imaging tools such as X-rays or CT Scans, ultrasound doesn’t expose the body to radiation. This safer approach has made ultrasound imaging the preferred method for testing pregnant women and infants, who have a higher risk for complications due to radiation. However, babies and expectant mothers are not the only ones who can benefit from ultrasound imaging and it is used in many ways to diagnose illness in the body. Following is a partial list of ultrasound technician education specialties available in the Dothan AL area:
- Musculoskeletal sonographers can create real-time images of joint injuries, assisting orthopedic surgeons and sports physicians in their diagnosis and treatment.
- Abdominal sonographers specialize in generating images of abdominal internal organs and tissues, such as the pancreas, spleen, liver and gallbladder.
- Breast sonographers conduct ultrasound scans using a sound frequency specifically targeted for breast tissue to evaluate tumors and other abnormalities as a method of verifying or contradicting the results of a mammogram.
- Obstetrics/Gynecology sonographers work with women to scan their reproductive organs and assess the development and health of fetuses throughout the pregnancy.
- Echocardiography sonographers are trained in the imaging and evaluation of the heart, its valves and vessels, and the blood flow to and from the heart.
- Vascular technologists are trained to use ultrasound technology to identify damaged areas or blockages in blood vessels, and to gauge the flow of blood through veins and arteries.
- Ophthalmology sonographers conduct diagnostic tests on the eyes and surrounding muscles and tissue.
- Neurosonology sonographers are specially trained to use ultrasound imaging to detect blockages, tumors or abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
Online Ultrasound Tech Classes
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Dothan ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your Dothan home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are often less expensive than on campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech school you are considering, check that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Sonogram Tech Schools
As soon as you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Dothan AL area. Of course location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Dothan AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the ultrasound technician programs you are interested in have partnerships with Dothan AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Dothan medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Dothan AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Dothan AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Dothan Ultrasound Tech Training
Enrolling in the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for lengthy time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Additional helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as a sonographer in Dothan Alabama.